The first kill is an interesting study. He’s an out of towner selling tractors. He’s got a daughter, and when he gets cornered in the vampires’ lair, he says he knew all along these guys weren’t interested in buying farm implements. So, why did he go along? It certainly wasn’t the disconcertingly ecstatic wonder Louis brings to the word “sugar.” A camera effect showing Lestat move out of the way to let the trapped prey throw a right cross at a heavy wooden door works simultaneously to present inescapable danger, an explanatory image of supernatural power, and an intentional punch line. Especially after it cuts to Lestat telling Louis not to bite the blood, but suck it. And never take the last bite.
As it is in Anne Rice’s 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire, the first death is as much a Dark Gift to the audience as it is to Louis. The entire sequence is a blur of mixed emotions, un-dulled by the narcotic effect of blood exchange. Watching Anderson transform Louis from a slow-motion near-death experience to a blissed-out lover of all things nocturnal is a mini-tour de force of sense memory and spontaneous abandon. But the most glaring personality change occurs in his mirror, Lestat, and it is the most subtle.
In the premiere episode “In Throes of Increasing Wonder,” Lestat is very intense, his stare seems predatory, which makes sense because he is on the hunt, and sociopathic, with no care of the effect of how intently he gazes. During Louis’ change in the new installment, Lestat’s eyes are just as intent, just as piercing and searching for meaning behind the eyes he is penetrating. But it is dense with love, pure admiration, and maybe even a touch of envy at a feeling of discovery he’s lost to the ages. Reid’s change is subtle, but very effective at telegraphing it to the audience, and Anderson is the perfect recipient, equally subtle, even as he’s stoned beyond the capacity of words.
“After the Phantoms of Your Former Self” introduces the most potent power of a vampire: a sense of humor. It starts out dry, but grows quite infectious as it bleeds out. Louis chides his maker consistently, with a growing mischievous curiosity grinding against invitational amusement. “It’s okay, you can be on top,” Lestat playfully offers as Louis beds down for the first time as a vampire in a coffin made for two.
Lestat, very becoming of his French nature, fills his readings with exquisite ennui. Even the ability to see into the thoughts of others like “a one-reeler” gets old, the visions present “dull monotonous picture shows.” They are tedious distractions. All Louis wants to know is, how long was Lestat going to keep a thing like this secret, the exchanges are as charged with character humor as they are with impending horror.
“Did you eat the baby and is the pandemic the opening they’ve been waiting for,” Molloy asks as a palate-cleansing change of wine is poured, and Interview with the Vampire once again becomes the horrific vampire story horror fans tune in to see. The beauty of the series is how often it makes us forget these creatures only regard humans as cognitive beings in between forkfuls.